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Art by Martinho Dias

One Hand Clapping

online magazine, London, 2023

MARTINHO DIAS, Self-isolation and creativity in 2020 / 2021

#365 days after: collective project created by artistic organization M O K O N S H U, Ukraine

Captura de ecrã 2024-01-22 234242.png

At first, I thought that the pandemic was a distant problem that would be overcome quickly. But, quickly, I realized the opposite.

Martinho Dias


It didn’t take long for the whole world to be aware of their own powerlessness in the face of an invisible virus. When the effects began to be felt in Portugal, my exhibition “Penas” was taking place at the Cultural and Congress Center of Caldas da Rainha. The exhibition was receiving many visitors, but it was forced to close earlier, in the middle of the planned date. Later, in October, the exhibition “Trigger”, in Lisbon, already had the peculiarity of having been inaugurated with masks, at an unusual time, with conditioned access and a reduction in the number of visitors for fear of contagion.


In spite of everything, the beginning of the exhibition still coincided with a period of some excitement and belief that everything was improving. The second wave of the pandemic was still a mirage, but two weeks after the opening of the exhibition, it became a reality, further affecting its visibility. In the last 365 days of the pandemic, I continued to work regularly for an exhibition (“Trigger”) and on pre-orders. Most of them remained, but others, not many, were on standby due to the worsening economic problems of clients. Standby positions were also planned abroad. 


The announced lockdowns did not frighten me so much. In fact, I have always been in lockdown at studio. But there was a difference – being in lockdown by your own will is not the same as being in lockdown by obligation.

Visits to the studio were also postponed or canceled for a long period of time, as were visits to exhibitions, concerts, meetings. Even when this was possible, the obligation to wear a mask, social distance, time restrictions and all the others, did not contribute to motivation. I’ve never been short of material. I always liked to do the shopping directly in the store, in Porto, but this was not always possible. Sometimes, in spite of myself, I was forced to shop online.


Despite the power of the pandemic, its far-reaching consequences and the various issues raised, I never felt motivated to represent it in any work.

MARTINHO DIAS: Conceptual Paintings | Artist Plays With Society’s Comfort Zone

Obsessed with Art, 

March 2020

By Maria Boscan


Martinho Dias’s conceptual paintings create new narratives, removing several of today’s leading public figures from their comfortable seats.


Martinho Dias is a Portuguese-born conceptual painter. He got his formal artistic education at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Porto, earning his master’s degree. Martinho was an illustrator in a local newspaper and teacher of Visual Arts until 2009. Since then, he has dedicated himself entirely to artistic activity. His work has been showcased in many individual and collective exhibitions, both in Portugal and abroad.

Over the years, Martinho focused on playing with society’s different power plays and privileged social layers. Mixed with a generous amount of irony and humor, his conceptual paintings circle many paradoxes.

Read more

exhibition TRIGGER

Espaço Exibicionista Gallery

Lisbon, April, 2021

Martinho Dias work is mostly figurative and his main theme is a social one, playing with society's different powers and privileged social layers, mixed with a generous portion of irony and humour circling many paradoxes.


As an artist, how do you define yourself?

I consider myself an indefinite, figurative, expressive, serious and humorous artist. I am very interested in the concept, but I am not conceptual. I can't work with my mind alone, which forces me to usepaints, brushes and magnetic cards. Perhaps I’m a (re)builder of narratives or a manipulator of images and contexts.

How long have you been in the art?

I would say that I have been in Art since I met, having started with the “art of playing” - an art in extinction. I never wanted to be an astronaut because I thought it was impossible, but I believed I could fly with some cards tied to my arms - everything went well, always, except to fly. I always used all kinds of paper to draw ... When I made my first oil painting, I used water to "dilute" the paints ...

What is your main theme? What inspires you?

My theme is mainly social, playing with power and lack of it or with different (un)connected behaviors. I liketo see different modalities (usually incompatible), playing on the same field:  sometimes it can be the canvas, sometimes it can be life. Inspiration is found in the time we live today andthe way we live in it. I am interested in how humans relate (or not) to each other and to themselves.

What does it mean to be creative? 

Being creative means being able to do something new with what everyone has access to, but has not yet been done. Like words, for example, or sounds, or the body or behaviors. 

Being creative is not the exclusive property of artists. There are a lot of ordinary people, less common than everyone else. Being creative should be an obligation!


RUA MAGAZINE Nº 34, December 2019

By Maria Inês Neto

Photography: Nuno Sampaio


Martinho’s interview, portuguese only


O RASTRO Gallery

April 2019


Text for the exhibition catalog

By António Tavares (writer)


It is not possible to remain indifferent to Martinho Dias' painting. He captures your gaze, if nothing else because of the unusual break of formal environments he offers us. The dissonant element [...] introduces a caricatural and political dimension that arouses an interpretive gaze. And those who see must reflect, even if art, as Freud intended, may be incomprehensible and enigmatic. Martinho Dias asks us for the effort of reason to give in to the delight of the eye.

And it is not difficult. Through the tension that the faces convey, through the vigorous and markedly gestural smudge, through the light and the contrast of colours and through the irony, certainly, sometimes caricatural and satirical.


To remain indifferent to Martinho Dias' painting is to remain in disquiet and ambiguity. And we men, using the scalpel of explanatory reason, tend towards what is comfortable and right. The question is whether we get there. 

Martinho Dias exposes Paroxetine

Artes & Contextos, December 2017

By Rui Freitas

Martinho’s interview, portuguese only

MARTINHO DIAS – interview

KLASSIK INTERNATIONAL Brand, Barcelona – New York, 2018

By Laura Gomez


What experience of your life would you say that is reflected in your works of art?

– Simply the experience of living.


How would you define yourself as an artist?

- I see myself as a figurative, expressive, serious and good-humoured artist. I need some organisation and method. I project the ideas before I get to work on the canvas or whatever it is. Concept interests me a lot, but I am not conceptual.

I am not able to show what I want merely through the mind. I usually make use of the painting with paint, brushes and magnetic cards.

In essence, I am a narrative (re)builder, an image and context manipulator.


For how long have been in art? How did you start?

– I would say that I have been in Arts for as long as I can remember, having started with “playing art”. I was always a very busy child and when I had no occupation, I would invent it. Sometimes my mother would anticipate that invention for me.

I would use every single piece of paper I was given to draw or paint – it could be an incomplete invoice book or the white cardboard which helped a new shirt to maintain its form.

I never wanted to be an astronaut because I thought it was impossible, but I believed I could fly with big wing-shaped cardboards tied to my arms. I built, I destroyed, I enlarged and I rebuilt a great number of houses (inhabitable) in the yard. I consider myself privileged because, from a young age, I had my own home, despite being vulnerable to fires, floods and landslides. With divine protection, I would use cutting tools to build boats, planes and carts. Later, I built my first easel, then my studio.

In my first oil painting, I used water to dilute the paints.

I attended a secondary school of artistic education, and then the Faculty of Fine Arts. I started to look for a job in publishers, as a freelancer, starting activity as a storybook and schoolbook illustrator. Later, I started to teach at secondary school, and I’ve done that for thirteen years. In parallel, I would still make time for painting.


What themes do you pursue?

– My subject matter is mainly social, playing with power and its lack, with several behaviours or with different moments of History which are closely connected. I am interested by the human figure and its condition, in frozen movement. The figures rarely appear isolated, but as a part of the frequently paradoxical, surreal or even absurd narratives. This is to attempt at some balance with the excess of “reality”, “logic” and “truth” in which we are submerged.


What inspires you to work?

– Besides the professional point of view, I am motivated by the necessity to materialise or achieve something. Only that way I can make it known to others – that is my job.


Where do you find inspiration?

– I find inspiration in the times we live in and in the way we live them. The news and the images of the media cans also be inspirational. Above all, and more than facts, I am interested in the way humans relate to each other. The way we behave in society and in private is often present in my work. I rely on what I know and see, but also on what I don’t know.


What for you is the most enjoyable part of your art?

– The final part of the execution of a work of art is the one that gives me the most pleasure. To me, it is towards the end (uncertain) when I start to see the completion of something. After all, that is why I started.

Although I have, from the start, an idea of what I am going to do, the initial phase is always of expectation, anxiety and, a lot of times, of dull work. Then, it may (or not) be a party and I may not notice time go by, as I may have an unexpected battle to fight.


What does being creative mean to you?

– Being creative means to be able to do something new with what everyone has access to, but no one has done anything with yet. Just like words, for example. We all make use of the same words as writers or poets, but only some make the syntactic combinations that tell them apart from others.

Creativity and creation are not owned by artists. There are a lot of common people, less common then everyone. Creativity should be mandatory in everyone’s life.


What famous artists have influenced you, and how?

– Contrary to the tendency to catalogue, define and name everything, I prefer the “bittersweet”. There were times when rock music would avoid classical music like the plague. These days, despite many merely pamphletlike combinations, we can witness admirable matches between an electric guitar and a violin, for example. In other words, I may be absorbed by scratches, accidental stains or rough gestures, with traditional, smoky, precise, photographic or minimalist combinations.

To make this clearer, imagine a common work with these artists: Sigmar Polke, Ai Weiwei, Rembrandt, Benjamin Clementine, John Cage, Willem de Kooning, William Turner, Antoni Muntadas, Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, AC\DC, Philip Glass, Thomas Struth, Julian Schnabel, Vermeer, Stockhausen, Leonard Cohen, David Salle, Bernardo Sassetti, Franz Kline, Dan Flavin, Jackson Pollock, Fragonard, Anish Kapoor, Antoni Tàpies, Brian Eno, Anselm Kiefer, Ghada Amer, Shirin Neshat, Nils Petter Molvær, Peter Haley, René Aubry, Bill Viola, Courbet, Rolling Stones, Helnwein, Fiona Rae, Paula Rego, Mike Dragas, Pina Bausch, Malevich, Ron Mueck, João Penalva, Picasso, Ad Reinhardt, Millet, Gerhard Richter, Kandinsky, Francis Bacon, Jenny Saville, Ann Hamilton, Gary Hume, Caravaggio, Júlio Pomar, Cecily Brown, Cézanne, Hermeto Pascoal, Laurie Anderson, Marlene Dumas, Jeff Wall, Joseph Beuys, Velásquez, Murakami, Monet, Sol LeWitt, Joy Division, Maurizio Cattelan, Nuno Rebelo, Delacroix, Kennet Noland, Kronos Quartet, Francisco Goya, Peter Greenaway, Gary Hill, Steve Reich, Albert Oehlen.

These are only some of the artists who may be present in my work, either inside my painting, or as company. I am interested by the precision of some, as well as by the spontaneity, experimentation, gestures or aggressiveness of others, either they’re realists, minimalists, classical, abstract or conceptual.

Actually, it is hard to name two or three influential artists to me.


What role does the artist have in society?

– The artist integrates society as any other citizen. The artist does not work for the society, but depends on it to exist. In turn, society does not need the artist, but what he is capable of creating. If he exists – we may no notice his presence, but if he wasn’t there, our existence would lose sense. His role is to be an artist.


Should art be funded? Why?

– Art should be funded when the completion of a work is at stake, either from the artist’s point of view, or from the public’s point of view. I, as an artist and as a connoisseur, should not be deprived from making what I do (for others) known, nor should I be deprived of what was made for me, just because it exceeds my economic power. Naturally, I exclude the acquisition of works.

All of this is dependent on the capacity and instruction level of the governors, in what concerns cultural policies, just like it depends on the citizens to demand those policies.

This is a very short and inexact answer for a relevant and complex question.

What do you think about the art community and market?

– For a long time, art and market have been working together. There are those who are a bit reluctant to talk about two things at the same time, as if the artist worked for himself and the result of such work lost dignity for being marketable with a market value. The value of the work of art, as such, is not changed just because a commercial value is assigned to it. A great deal of the art and anti-art which opposed the market ended up in museums and collections by means of commercial transactions.

However, a distinction between “commercial art”, which may not deserve the statute of “art” from the moment it is created for the market, and the work of art that is created for a specific purpose, or spontaneously by the artist, to which a price is assigned.

I think that nowadays a good part of the arts community is overly involved with the market, with tendencies, in making trousers and socks match. While the art field expands, there are means and techniques which are considered archaic compared with other new means which alone do not make the work of art. Our minds are so blown by the magnificence of the means or by the artist’s production, that we don’t even notice the absence of “art” in the work.

On the other hand, there seems to be some shame that a work of art may be understood by more than three people apart from the artist.

Many things are overrated and based on several archaic conceptualisms of the middle of the 20th century. In this regard, I quote Beuys, in 1964, from his book “Every Man an Artist”: “The silence of Marcel Duchamp is overrated.”

About the work “Maternity Leave”

August 2019

By José Côrte

text in Portuguese only

Inside the studio – Martinho Dias

November 2015

By Saatchi Art

What are the major themes you pursue in your work? 

My work is mostly figurative and my main theme is a social one, playing with society's different powers and privileged social layers, mixed with a generous portion of irony and humour circling many paradoxes.

My initial material and subjects are manly from press media, art history and Internet. I am a manipulator and I am also an image/context ‘agitator’, contributing to reality new meanings and narratives. The photographic images are used as "models" to my pictorial compositions. What I do consists of removing several of today’s leading public figures of their comfortable sets offering in return, as often as possible, some degree of discomfort.


What was the best advice given to you as an artist?  

My best advices always came from inside: work hard; be myself; do the best; be aware of the surroundings; be persistent; and, above all, never expected others to do the things that should be done by me.

You see, I am travelling in a plane which I built for myself!


Prefer to work with music or in silence?  

I like both. In certain stages of the work, especially in beginning, there isn’t much room for music - I do not feel that it is necessary. From the time when the ideas begin to take shape when the work leaves the embryonic stage, is where music can enter - in different genres. It works as a sort of celebration.


If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be? 

It would be a piece by Gottfried Helnwein, e.g.:

“The Child Dreams 6”, 2011 or “Lest you Forget”, 1995.


Who are your favorite writers?

It has been a while since I have had enough time to dedicate as much time to reading as I would like to do. Furthermore, I must confess that one of my weaknesses is that I have the tendency to focus more on monograph and documentary readings. However, I can’t avoid mentioning the writers I'm most excited and enthusiastic about:
José Saramago, Afonso Cruz, Valter Hugo Mãe, Paul Auster, Aldous Huxley, Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, apart from those I haven’t read yet!

Speech by "MAC'2015 Award - Hilário Teixeira Lopes"

by MAC – Contemporary Art Movement, Lisbon, 2015

Discurso Prémio Hilário 2015(1).jpg


Gallery 5, November 2015


Exhibition Catalog Text

By Martinho Dias

text in Portuguese only


Gallery 5, November 2015


About the Exhibition

by Francisca Abreu

text in Portuguese only

Interview with artist – Martinho Dias

PAINTERSPOT blog, Germany 2014

By Mike Mainbird

1) Who are you and where do you live?
First of all, I’m Martinho Dias, a Portuguese artist living and working in Trofa – Oporto area.
My work is essentially painting. I work to myself and for the public that like what I do.


2) What did you do before you decided to become an artist?
I have not yet decided to become “artist”, but I always wanted to paint, draw, design, compose, work with ideas – be free.
Before embracing the artistic activity in full time, I did illustrations and taught visual arts.


3) When and why did you decide you devote to the art?
I always thought dedicate myself to art and I always worked in this direction. As in all activities – particularly in the artistic area – the time, work and persistence are crucial.


4) What is your favourite Subject (s) and design media?
I work with what is most convenient for me, but mainly with acrylic paint.
What I do is to decontextualise, above all, remove several of the protagonists of our time out of their comfort space; seek to abolish compartments and bring different realities for the same stage,
trying to thus build a new reality for the viewer.
My theme is particularly social, playing with different powers, different fringes of society and some irony and humor around many paradoxes – real or invented.


5.) Where or how to find inspiration?
All my work is born in my head. I do not do many studies. It takes me a few weeks to think and to build, almost mentally, a group of works.
After that I save main ideas on paper and look for my models. Finally, when I start painting, I only stop, usually, on the last work.


6) What do you like about your work?
I like some narratives; some compositions, expression, color … Particularly, I like to surprise myself, (sometimes it happens). I like that each work be a pretext for a discussion beyond the physical boundaries of painting itself.
I like the conclusion phase of a work and that it has autonomy to live and defend for itself outside the studio.


7) Which artist or art movement that has influenced you and what way?
Among others, I started interesting me by a Portuguese artist Júlio Pomar. Then for a while, I became interested by Joan Mitchell’s work, Sigmar Polke and David Salle.
In a case, the stain and the color; in another, the line and glued tissues, and in Salle, the figure.
Later, I met Jenny Saville and Gottfried Helnwein and I was fascinated. However, I do not consider that these artists have been decisive for what I’m doing today.
Right now, with the internet facilities, interests me the work, or parts of the work, from various artists … But I am still to know Rembrandt.


8) What are the best answers that you have received for your work?
Some expressions like:
“I can not remain indifferent to your images”; “Every day I look at your picture and I find new things”; “Your paintings gave a beautiful draperies”; “Each work gives discussion for several hours”; “I have not found out how you managed to join cardinals and rugby players”; “I love this painting but that stain suffocates me”; etc.


9) What are your favorite art and artists?
The Raft, 2004, Bill Viola;
Passage, 2004, Jenny Saville;
The Child Dreams,  2011, Gottfried Helnwein, among many others.


10) What advice would you give to other artists?
Work, work, work … (after all, “who works for pleasure not tired”).
Boldness, determination, perseverance, look at all possible sides, not be swank, not dress wolf’s clothing nor lamb … Above all, to be honest and know what’s want.


11) Is there a question which do you imagine itself again and again?
Why are we obsessed by numbers, graphs and equations and not by ideas or combination of colours?


MAC – Movimento Arte Contemporânea, Lisbon


Exhibition Catalog Text, October 2014

By Álvaro Lobato de Faria (Dir.)

text in Portuguese only

BELONG ME | Martinho Dias

Mutante Magazine, October 2014

By Sara Quaresma Capitão

text in Portuguese only

Seven questions to Martinho Dias


By Paulo Moreira Lopes

Martinho’s interview, portuguese only

About Socratic irony

October 2013

By Martinho Dias

text in Portuguese only

Martinho Dias - art and privilegie

S. Paulo, Brazil 2011

By Paulo Vergolino, Curator

text in Portuguese only


São Bento Art Gallery, Lisbon, 2007


Text for the exhibition catalog

By Hugo Barata

text in Portuguese only


By Rui Eduardo Paes, Lisbon, 2005

text in Portuguese only


Social Criticism in Martinho Dias painting

GAZETA DAS CALDAS, February 2020

By Natacha Narciso

Martinho’s interview, portuguese only

The painter made a guided visit to this exhibition constituted by unpublished works

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